Jim Duignan, associate professor and chair of Visual Arts in the College of Education; and Rachel Harper, adjunct faculty member in the College of Education, have each been awarded Individual Artists Program grants from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The Individual Artists Program grants help professional artists to create works that elevate their careers and brings value to the City of Chicago.
Founder of the arts education program at DePaul, Duignan started the Stockyard Institute in 1995 as a community center to design and organize visual arts projects alongside youth, teachers and neighbors. He's taken this concept to a number of Chicago Public Schools. Currently, Duignan is an artist-in-residence at Chicago's Bernhard Moos elementary school in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. In collaboration with students, local youth, teachers and the community, Duignan plans to use his IAP grant to design and create sculptural works that will adorn the historic entrance of Moos school built in 1907 by architect Dwight H. Perkins.
"This grant allows me to get some support in fabricating some sculptural pieces," Duignan says. "I'm plotting out these oversized planters that would come out from the doors."
Duignan says he will be working with DePaul students, former teachers and Moos students to look at designs that "touch on topics like local history, literacy or other issues that are prevalent in the neighborhood."
Assistant director of the Stockyard Institute, Harper's primary work has examined why the literary and artistic works of children have historically been excluded from libraries and museums. Through her project, Seen + Heard, she advocates for the cultural works of children under 13. Like Duignan, Harper is developing her project as an artist-in-residence at Moos elementary school. Harper plans to use her IAP grant to create an "atelier" or workshop, which will serve as a resource room for creating art and problem-solving - not just for children and students, but for teachers, administration and community members.
"Art is a platform for dialogue; the arts help us communicate better with each other and with ourselves," Harper says. "Children are really prolific producers of insightful and interesting works that come from a different vantage point."